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Counties go for bamboo farming

By BY ERIC ABUGA | May 29th 2014 | 2 min read
By BY ERIC ABUGA | May 29th 2014

With less than half an acre, they have perfected the art of digging pits and planting Eucalyptus trees on the wetland to make bricks as a source of living.

This is what most families in Kisii and Nyamira counties depend on regardless of the dangers posed to the environment.

John Momanyi started digging pits on an eighth he inherited from his father for brick firing. This was after his maize crop failed after it was attacked by disease, something that saw him lose Sh15,000 he had spent on the farm.

Today, Momanyi says three-quarters of his farm bears open pits and kilns on the side used to burn the bricks.

“I cannot grow any crop in this area and that’s why you can only see Eucalyptus trees in some of the areas we tried filling with some soil,” he says.

In Nyamira County, a piece of ready brick is sold at Sh7 and some businessmen make as much as Sh28,000 per kiln. They also use firewood from the eucalyptus trees grown on parts of their farms to burn the bricks for a week.

In the two counties, 10,000 hectares of fertile land is lost annually due to brick making and this has also affected the climate and subsequently food security.

Kisii County has begun a bamboo-growing programme that aims at replacing Eucalyptus trees planted along all rivers.

reclaim wetlands

The county has partnered with the Forestry department, the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema), Ministry of Agriculture and Water Services to reclaim the wetlands.

Nyamira County government has already set aside funds that will facilitate preparation of two bamboo nurseries in each of the 20 wards.

In spite of the awareness created by a number of international organisations and county governments, wetland conversion continues in most parts of the counties because of a strong combination of demographic and economic factors.

Kisii County Executive for Energy, Water and Mineral Resources, Sikitte Oncharo says effective conservation of water and riparian resources is best achieved by a combination of law enforcement and engagement of local communities.

“It is important to note that access to adequate and reliable supply of water is a key input to poverty reduction and an important element for social stability and economic growth as well as meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Vision 2030,” says Mr Oncharo.

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